OKLAHOMA CITY - Two customers shopping at the Apple store inside Penn Square Mall recently jumped into action to stop a thief.

An off-duty police officer and a former pastor were able to hold Javen Thomas, 18, down until mall security arrived.

“All I could think was apprehend the guy,” said Michael Mertens, customer. “Stop him.”  

Mertens does not consider himself a hero, he said the real hero is the off-duty police officer who tackled Thomas.

Police said Thomas was trying to steal 12 iPhones from the Apple store.

“A store employee quickly approached him and told him the iPhones don’t work outside the store,” said Msgt. Gary Knight, Oklahoma City Police Department. “But the suspect continued to yank them free of the cables, trying to steal them.”

Thomas took off with the phones, but did not get far. The off-duty officer, who is the assistant chief of police in Purcell, caught the teen right outside the store.

A customer inside the store took a photo of the customers holding Thomas on the ground.

Mertens sat on top of the suspect, trying to talk to him.

“The off-duty officer was being really strong keeping him on the ground,” said Mertens. “And here I am, a former pastor, trying to comfort the guy.”

Both men held Thomas until mall security arrived and put him in handcuffs.

Before police took Thomas to jail, Mertens said he offered to buy the suspect a phone.

“I said if you really need a phone, I’ll buy you one,” said Mertens.  

He hopes the teen will consider his offer or at least choose a different lifestyle.

“I felt like he’s probably somebody who hasn’t had a chance,” said Mertens. “And if he had had a chance and he’s screwing up, he still needs live and help.”

Police are investigating another theft that happened at the Apple store in November. Police said two men stole $6,000 in iPhones.